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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 16 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 38 views

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‘shàng’ as a direction verb, denotes upward movement. Its basic invariant meaning is ‘to ascend, up, on’. Its extended meaning is ‘up to a certain standard, up to reach one’s goal, up to touch the other part’. For instance: ‘dāngshàng le zhǔrèn’ (become a director), ‘kǎoshàng le dàxué’ (succeed in passing college entrance exams and be enrolled), ‘zhù shàng le lóufáng’ (be able to live in a building), ‘yòngshàng le diàndēng’ (be able to use electric lights), etc. In these few cases, ‘shàng’ maintains its basic meaning of ‘ascending, up to a higher level’ and connotes achieving the goal expressed by each RVC. In ‘guānshàng chuānghu’ (close the window), ‘suǒshàng mén’ (lock the door), ‘dàishàng màozi’ (put on the hat), ‘shàng’ has the meaning of ‘succeed in having two parts contact each other’. ‘kàn bushang yǎn’ has the idiomatic meaning of ‘not interesting somebody’, which is derived from the basic meaning of ‘shàng’, namely, not coming up to somebody’s eyes, etc. In addition, RVCs formed with ‘shàng’ are:

交/染/吸/爱/当/过 + 上

jiāo/rǎn/xī/ài/dāng/guò + shàng

start friendship, relationship/acquire a habit/inhale/become/pass, go by + shàng

交上了女朋友/染上了坏习惯/吸上毒/爱上了大草原/过上了好日子

jiāoshàng le nǚpéngyou/rǎnshang le huài xíguàn/xī shàng dú/àishang le dàcǎoyuán/guò shàng le hǎo rìzi

(started dating a girl friend/contracted a bad habit/started using drugs/fell in love with the grassland/started having a good life)

In the above examples, the resultative complement ‘shàng’ also signals the aspectual meaning of ‘start and continuation’ of the state or action denoted by V1. For instance ‘xī shàng dú’ (start using drugs) signifies the start and continuation of the action of ‘using drugs’, and ‘àishang le dàcǎoyuán’ means ‘fell in love with the grassland’, referring to the beginning and continuation of the state of loving the grassland.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Aug 16 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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